haunting | 

Childhood pal of missing Annie McCarrick pays poignant tribute to her on 30th anniversary

Linda also said Annie was ‘never forgotten among those of us that are lucky to call her a friend’

Larry Murphy

Sunday World

A childhood pal of American woman Annie McCarrick has posted a poignant tribute to the missing woman on the 30th anniversary of her disappearance.

Taking to Twitter, Linda Ringhouse wrote: “30 years ago this week I was vacationing with my friend #Anniemccarrick in Ireland.

“On 3/26/93 she would be murdered and never found.” She added the hashtag: “#findanniemccarrick”.

Linda has always remembered her tragic friend and last year revealed how she had been “happy” in Ireland before she disappeared.

Linda also said Annie was “never forgotten among those of us that are lucky to call her a friend”.

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People have left numerous messages of support in response to Linda’s tweet, with some in Ireland describing their memories of Annie’s disappearance.

“So very sorry Linda for the loss of your dear friend Annie McCarrick,” one person has written.

"Annie is always very much on my mind as the 30th anniversary of her disappearance approaches. I continue to hope & pray for a break in the case. Sending love & hugs from Ireland.”

Another added: “Annie is remembered in Ireland; the place she loved which holds the secret of her disappearance.

"So sorry for your loss Linda. 30 years on we hope someone will have the courage to make that call that provides an opportunity to justice. Not knowing is just heartbreaking.”

On last year’s anniversary of Annie (27) vanishing without a trace on March 26, 1993, Linda said she had visited her pal in Ireland a month before she went missing.

She wrote: “I was able to see how happy she was to be there and starting a new life chapter. She took off to Ireland to live her ultimate dream.”

Annie went missing after taking a bus to Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, to go walking in the mountains.

New Yorker Linda described how difficult it was to lose someone this way.

She wrote: “It’s a different type of loss and grief. It brings a type of anger and rage that does subside but can come right back at any moment.”

She wrote: “She was a force of freedom and adventure. She is never forgotten among those of us that were lucky to call her a friend.

In a documentary aired last year novelist Marisa Mackle told how every time she goes for a walk in the Dublin Mountains, she finds herself asking: “Annie, where are you?”

Haunting footage of a carefree Annie delightedly thanking her Nana “so much for the money” that she had sent to her in Dublin forms the opening frames in the documentary that explored the enduring mystery.

The only child of parents with strong Irish links, Annie is described as “bright, beautiful, good-humoured, confident, outgoing."

There have been many theories over the decades, but with no crime scene, and in those days of scarce CCTV footage, gardaí spent the initial weeks of the investigation following up over 100 tips and taking dozens of statements.

In the Scannal documentary, Mackle, who waitressed with Annie in the Courtyard Restaurant in Donnybrook, says she believes her friend is somewhere in the Dublin Mountains.

“When I’m up there, I say a prayer for Annie. I just hope that one day somebody will find something,” she says. “My personal belief is that there was a serial killer.”

It is a theory shared by one of the main detectives on the original case.

“It definitely wasn’t a coincidence that a number of women travelling on their own went missing in the east [of the country],” says retired Detective Garda Thomas Rock. “Looking back on it now, it looks like it could have been the same person.

“One of the major difficulties in solving a case like this is you have no crime scene, you have no body, you have no material evidence.”

When gardaí first began investigating Annie’s disappearance, they treated it as a missing person case as there was no evidence of foul play.

Mr Rock remembers the McCarrick family coming to Ireland as hundreds of volunteers searched for any trace of Annie.

“They were very worried and anxious parents, and they took a very proactive role in the investigation,” he says. “We set up a mobile communications centre out at Johnnie Fox’s and we carried out massive searches of the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains. But whoever took her made sure there was nothing left.

Larry Murphy

“Some people don’t realise the massive size of the Wicklow and Dublin Mountains. It’s only when you go up there that you realise the size of that area, the remoteness of it — and the probability that a body could be buried up there and never found.

“We had sightings of her, where people came forward and said they had given her a lift or brought her here and there, and we had to follow up every single lead.

“The whole focus of the investigation for the first couple of weeks was trying to find out where had she gone. It’s different in an investigation where you have a scene and a body.”

In the years that followed, Annie’s disappearance began to be linked to the cases of other women who went missing in the east of the country, which led to the setting up of Operation Trace.

“There were similarities between three of the women that went missing — there was Annie McCarrick, JoJo Dullard and then there was Deirdre Jacob — three women on their own, just out walking, and then they suddenly disappeared and were never seen again,” Mr Rock says.

The documentary also detailed how Larry Murphy was arrested in February 2000 for the kidnap, rape and attempted murder of a young woman in the Wicklow Mountains.

She was rescued when two hunters stumbled upon the horrific scene, and Murphy was later sentenced to 15 years in jail.

Mr Rock says that without evidence, you have no court case.

“As a detective, you have to work with what you have — you can have thoughts about who may or may not be responsible.”

Kenneth Strange, a former FBI agent and McCarrick family friend, helped and advised them, and took an active interest in the case on the 10th anniversary.

“My gut tells me that she made her way to Enniskerry and she met someone there, or was approached by someone there who maybe asked her for directions — and then, by that time, it’s over,” he says.

“I would call that person a psychopath. These are people who act alone — they have a place where they know they are going to dispose of the body.”

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